Monday, February 15, 2016


Duke University, 2015

Yes, the new Lax biography by Michael N. McGregor is very good, if not a bit tedious in how the author has to work through so many personal passages of his own but after a bit of time I started to fall into his affection for Lax, which I already have, and now we are one happy family as I come to the home stretch. The period when Lax was publishing little strips of publications with Emil Antonucci I was living through as he was sending them to me and somewhere I have a few of those, and elsewhere I have picked them up and sold them as a bookseller. Sometimes what we have sold has paved the way for publishing a new book by another poet. It’s the balancing act. And it isn’t so much just the poetry of Lax that gets to me, many poems are wrung our twists of things, it’s simply his look (wiry and odd and gentle) and his way of living and just how he went about writing and living his poetry that greatly grabbed me from the start. These three small Greek islands — Kalymnos, Patmos, and Lipsi — long his home. Who would suspect he had been great friends with the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, had his poems highly supported by John Ashbery and James Laughlin, that he had run away with the circus for a time, worked on scripts in Hollywood, was on the staff at The New Yorker and through it all kept his head? Today many of his thin booklets of poems fetch hundreds of dollars, whereas he lived a spartan and seemingly joyous life. By the way, may the author repair the typo to John Martone's publication "tel-let" (and not "tel-net") on page 387. Lax would encourage that repair since he so believed in the smallest of the small poetry journals.

[ BA ]

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